UNC Campus Life: Why Saturday Evening Could Have Been a Dream


For most away games, I find myself in my dorm room with one or two (or ten) friends screaming at the television, cursing referees, opposing players, and even the announcers (I’m looking at you Len Elmore).  My friends and I worry unless we’re up by a good 20 points and even then, we’re cautiously optimistic. We’ve learned from Kentucky and Duke that anything can, and will, happen when it comes to Carolina basketball and to never, as a fan, grow complacent.  When the game ends we’re either heartbroken and in a near state of shock (I’m pretty sure I went without a heartbeat for a good 30 seconds after Austin Rivers’ buzzer beater) or we breathe a sigh of relief. Because this is Carolina basketball and we’re expected to win.

Which is all the more reason why I’m not entirely convinced that the game on Saturday occurred.  Spring break started for UNC students on Friday and as such, campus was mostly deserted during the Duke game.  Instead, many of us watched the game from home or at a local bar, without the support of our fellow Carolina fans. I for one watched the game with two Virginia Tech students and one James Madison student so the first problem I encountered was their lack of basketball knowledge shortly followed by their apathy towards the rivalry.  That’s not to say they weren’t rooting for Carolina (I am their friend after all) or that they didn’t realize the importance of the game, but it was hard for them to understand just how significant the game was to Carolina in general. I soon found a way around this problem by incentivizing the game for them–I’d pay for pizza if Carolina won.  However, the experience was still surreal to me. I wasn’t surrounded by Born and Bred Tar Heels and I was in an environment where Duke wasn’t absolutely hated.  Following the win, there was no Franklin Street rush, no mile sprint to the intersection that is central to basketball celebration. Instead, we flocked to Facebook, posted online about our win, and went about our business.  While there was celebrating on Franklin Street that I know of, it just isn’t the same without the most of the student body being there.

Another bizarre thing was the fact that it wasn’t close. The Carolina team I know typically makes me sweat, pace, and generally freak out.  That’s not to say I didn’t during this game but it’s usually much worse.  At no point in the game did it appear the Dukies would catch us. This wasn’t a normal game: the scariest it got in the second half was an 11 point lead.  Think about that for a second: there have been games against Miami, Virginia, Maryland, even State that were much more contested. The Wolfpack put up a bigger fight against us at home and they’re not even our rivals.  And then Duke, at Cameron, on Senior night, in front of the crowd that’s been waiting for months in tents, goes down by 24 at half.  Let me rephrase that: has their score (24) doubled at halftime by their opponents (48).  From that point on, they fail to cut the lead to single digits and end up getting blown out by 18.  How does this happen? This is the same team that went into the Dean Dome and pulled off a buzzer beater that has been replayed close to a thousand times by ESPN in a month.  I know the concept of “living and dying by the 3” but this was ridiculous. We controlled the tempo, the pace, and even got Miles Plumlee, the player being honored that night, to foul out.  With the exception of Dean Smith and Michael Jordan coming back to help coach this team, I cannot think of a better scenario than what played out on Saturday evening.

The Tar Heels are the ACC Regular Season Champs, the #1 seed in the ACC tourney meaning that Duke will likely have to face FSU again if they want to come back for Round 3, earned revenge for one of the most heart breaking losses of its season, and did so on Senior Night in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  Meanwhile, our fans didn’t get to rush Franklin, didn’t get to experience it at Carolina, and, at least for me, didn’t get to watch it with other Carolina fans.  So excuse me for not being entirely sure it actually happened. I woke up Sunday morning and immediately went to ESPN because I was sure that this could have just as easily been a dream. Even 24 hours after watching such a triumph happen, I’m still not utterly convinced that I’m not still dreaming and the top isn’t still spinning (excuse my Inception reference).  But regardless, even if it is, it’s been one hell of a dream.